Guest reporter Martin Saxon was at Old Trafford for last night’s KSL Roses clash.
‘Low key’ maybe best sums up this meeting of two teams who couldn’t make it to Finals Day. In the end, Yorkshire Diamonds recorded their first win and Lancashire Thunder ended with one win across the competition.
Once play started, it was a very one-sided affair indeed, as aside from maybe the first seven overs of the match, the Diamonds dominated.
After a first over from Thunder captain Amy Satterthwaite that went for 11, Hayley Matthews and Sophie Ecclestone did a superb job to leave Yorkshire 36-2 after seven overs, and it was very much going the home side’s way. Lauren Winfield had also departed to a smart stumping by Ellie Threlkeld off Sophie Ecclestone.
Then Alex Blackwell was the key player in turning the game, contributing 59 off 42 deliveries with five fours and two sixes. Her innings, full of improvised dabs and sweeps, was complemented superbly by the power of Katherine Brunt, who scored 36 in 24 deliveries.
As if the scoring rate had not been quick enough over the last two thirds of the innings, six penalty runs were added to the score for a slow over rate – judging by the lack of urgency shown as the cut off approached one wondered if Satterthwaite and her team were even aware of the regulation. As it was, the extra six runs made very little difference.
Perhaps daunted by the very stiff target, it seemed to be big shots or nothing in the early stages of the reply. Whilst Blackwell and Brunt had undoubtedly hit a lot of boundaries, their rotation of the strike had also been excellent, something that appeared to be missing from the Thunder reply.
After seven overs, Lancashire were 34-2, almost comparable to the first innings, but few in the crowd held out much hope of a home win. Katherine Brunt only conceded five in her first two overs, and was then replaced by one of the world’s leading T20 bowlers in Danielle Hazell.
Deandra Dottin did her best, and was involved in a curious incident when she hit a high full toss towards the boundary only to see Brunt pluck it out of the air above her head withe one hand. The umpire correctly called no ball for a delivery above waist height, but non-striker Threlkeld, thinking a legal catch had been taken, was clearly out of her ground when the stumps were subsequently put down. The umpires allowed Threlkeld to remain even though the no ball Law states all no balls are considered to have been no balls from the instant of delivery. So under the Laws the ball was never dead and it appears, however much you sympathise with her, that Threlkeld was out under the Laws? One for any umpires reading this?
The end came very quickly with six wickets for 11 runs, and Brunt ending with a hat-trick for a return of 3-6. Hazell recorded an even more impressive 4-10 in four overs.
Whilst taking nothing away from Yorkshire, Lancashire’s batsmen were faced with batting in the twilight under lights, something I imagine few had done before. The Diamonds’ decision to bat on winning the toss was no surprise.
Lancashire Thunder also perhaps go down as the unluckiest side in the KSL. Two of their three original overseas players withdrew, then came the biggest blow with the absence of Sarah Taylor. It all left their batting line up looking rather brittle on paper, as it was surely too much to ask Dottin and Matthews to fly in a few days before the first match and adapt instantly to alien English conditions. Danielle Wyatt was another who could have contributed – given she has an excellent record of run scoring at county level but a poor one for England, many wondered how she would perform at a level in between. The answer was not very well, with just 39 tournament runs.
On a night of few positives for Lancashire Thunder, perhaps the most encouraging thing was the attendance of 875 at Old Trafford for what after all was a dead rubber. In the last two years, England Women have not played in the North (or even in the North Midlands), and tonight has hopefully sent a message to the ECB that there is an audience for women’s cricket in the North.